ACTION NEWS: Crossing The Picket Lines

This is Planets Magazine Action News, coming to you live with a special report: The Capricorn War — Conflict in Echo Cluster!

Good evening; I’m Jim Chancellite. The top story for today comes from Bird Man space, where local shipfitters belonging to the Echo Cluster Shipbuilder’s Union have reportedly been crossing their own picket lines in record numbers.

We’re going now to our correspondent in the field, Torbjorn Grietenkamp, aboard the Birdman battleship [CENSORED]. Torbjorn, are you there?
*static*
JC: Torbjorn, can you hear me?
TG: Ah, yes… yes I can, Jim.
JC: Can you give us any insight as to the recent events?
TG: Yes, Jim. There’s been no official word from Emperor Othrym, but unofficially, the entire fleet is buzzing with rumors of massive construction projects completed under conditions of absolute secrecy. Approximately fifty medium carriers are said have joined the Imperial Fleet — a naval force which heretofore has relied primarily on torpedo volleys rather than fighter craft.
JC: Good Lord! Fifty? That’s an entire second navy!
TG: That’s what the rumors say. What’s more, all of these carriers were reportedly kept under full cloak during the entire construction process.
JC: Amazing! But there’s no official word?
TG: Officially, there is partial confirmation in the form of a massive increase in registered call signs on the communications network. Also, there have been several unexplained reassignments of senior personnel over the past few weeks; this would be a suitable explanation. Finally, we’ve been told that a new operation called “SHIELD” has begun.
JC: But there’s been no actual announcement made by the War Office?
TG: No, but that’s standard practice in the Empire of the Birds. The last official press conference was held in a locked coat closet and the briefing officer never showed. The one before that was held in an open airlock and the one before that was scheduled inside an escape pod during a live-fire exercise.
JC: But aren’t you getting regular press releases?
TG: We are now that we’ve learned where the distribution post is.
JC: The distribution post…?
TG: A locked filing cabinet in a disused lavatory in the basement, clearly marked “Beware of the Leopard”. Yes, secrecy is rather pervasive here in the Empire, but at least the censors have a sense of humor.
JC: I’m beginning to get that impression.
TG: There’s supposed to be another press briefing in a few minutes, inside Torpedo Tube Nine. Oddly, there are only eight torpedo bays here on the [CENSORED], but you never know; we might actually be told something.
JC: Good luck, Torbjorn.
TG: Thanks, Jim.

In related news, spokesman Hans “Feet” Charnov of the ECSU has released a statement specifically denying the construction of a squadron of carriers for the Empire of the Birds. We’re told that union workers have been limited to strictly local construction, largely the refurbishment of a few orbital battle stations designed for stationary defense. A press conference is scheduled for later this evening.

Finally, tonight, we have received confirmation of the death of Mork from Ork. The prominent Orkan sociological nonconformist was found dead on the backwater alien planet of “California”, where he was conducting a long-term ethnographic investigation of the native culture. Preliminary reports suggest suicide due to asphyxiation, though some sources in the Orkan heirarchy, speaking on condition of anonymity, blame his long-standing practice of holding his breath as a form of protest. An autopsy is scheduled for today to determine the precise cause of death.

Long famed for many of his bizarre yet compelling protests against the customarily humorless Orkan culture, Mork had been researching parallel practices among the primitives of the local tribes, where humor is encouraged in certain venues. His work, often released under his local pseudonym of “Robin Williams”, is considered foundational to the popular modern Orkan counterculture movement known as “Splinking Pleasantly”.

Mork was 63 years young.

And that’s the way it is, today, the ninth of Shazzbot in the third year of the reign of Emperor Emork. Long may he reign!

Stay tuned for the season finale of the hit show, Dancing With Stars.

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